Hayashi Kenji of Sunset Live

Sunset Live is always one of the highlights of Fukuoka’s summer season. For many, it has become as much a part of contemporary Fukuokan culture as its famous yatai (food stalls on the streets). This year marks the 21st running of the beachside musical festival and, we’re fairly certain, not the last. We caught up with founder Hayashi Kenji again to hear his thoughts on its history and future.

Two decades ago, the Futami-gaura area was particularly rural. That’s changed in recent years, with a lot of coastal development. The festival, too, outgrew the parking lot of Hayashi’s restaurant Sunset, where he originally held it, and relocated to Keya beach. It’s now an expansive, three-day extravaganza. At its peak, Sunset Live drew 17,000 people, though that has stabilized to around 15,000 after some ups and downs in the last few years due to the economy.

“It just steadily grew,” says Hayashi. “It wasn’t our intention for it to be a business, but if we didn’t maintain it like a business, it couldn’t grow. And yet, as just a business, it can’t be cool.”

Hayashi has nevertheless kept it cool with some key decisions. He and his team mainly invite local food vendors that use local products. Rather than rely on an event company, they build all structures by hand, as you would for a local matsuri (neighborhood festival). The environment is also a concern and they have some 300 staff to help with recycling activities. The cleanup is very thorough.

Bands, however, have not been exclusively local ones. Hayashi was a tenkin musuko (son of a parent always getting transferred) so he decided to reach out to artists from regions all over Japan–and eventually the world. The line-up these days is international and varied, though rock and reggae has always been the backbone.

Roughly half the musicians ever featured in Koe will be performing this year, as well as live painters Gravity Free. “Art,” says Hayashi, “is an important part of the festival, too, because it gives it individuality.”

As for its future, Hayashi says what probably anyone in his position would: “I want to leave it to someone else who can keep it going.” It’s a legacy certainly worthy of that dream.

DATES: 9/6~9/8
PRICES: 1-day pass: ¥6500; 3-day pass: ¥15,000; night (after 6pm): ¥5000; middle/high school: ¥4000






今年の出演者をみると、本誌でもこれまでに取り上げたことがあるアーティストたちの名前もたくさんある。ライブペイントのGravity Freeも本誌読者にはお馴染みだろう。「音楽だけではなくアートも大切な要素だと考えています。サンセットライブならではの魅力を演出してくれますから」。



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